Ashley Graham, Woman of the Year, Mattel, Barbie

Ashley Graham Honored Twice, As A Plus-Size Model And A Cultural Icon

The years 2016 has been good for model Ashley Graham, who first rose to international attention earlier this year, when Sports Illustrated named her a Rookie of the Year for their annual swimsuit edition. As Ashley gained more attention, she used her new-found fame to bring greater positive attention to plus-size women, a cause that hits close to home for Graham. A plus-size model herself, Ashley has created a fashion label geared towards supplying trendy and comfortable clothing to plus-size women. Now, as 2016 draws to a close, Graham’s endeavors in both fashion design and modeling are being recognized on two fronts.

Barbie To Honor Ashley Graham With A Doll In Her Image

Barbie collectors young and old have probably already noticed that the Mattel line of dolls has been changing to include a more diverse offering, and this new tradition will continue, as The Hollywood Reporter reveals, with a brand new Ashley Graham doll. Ashley has been very public in her praise of the new diversity found in the line of Barbie dolls, but she says she never thought she might be included in that spectrum of diverse dolls.

Mattel approached Ashley, after noticing Graham’s praise of their efforts in changing the face of Barbie, because they were impressed with the model’s confidence and in her efforts to bring more positivity to plus-size women.

Graham assumed there wouldn’t be much for her to do in creating the doll, but her fantasies of going through a body image scanner were quickly deflated, and she was perhaps more excited, upon learning that she would have more say in the doll’s appearance. For instance, the Opening Ceremony bodycon dress and denim jacket were all her ideas, based on an actual outfit she has worn herself.

In agreeing to let Barbie emulate her as a plus-size model, Ashley did have one request. As the model and fashion designer explains it, it’s more of a deal breaker than a request.

“She had to have her thighs touch. No ands, ifs or buts about it. And I asked for cellulite but obviously plastic and cellulite don’t go hand in hand,” Ashley Graham shared. “It was important that the Barbie resembled me as much as possible. The thighs touching was one way to show young girls that it’s OK for your thighs to touch, despite society saying that a ‘thigh gap’ is more beautiful.”

Ms. Graham says she’s happy with Mattel’s efforts to create a more diverse line of Barbie dolls, because she feels it’s important that dolls aimed at young girls present attainable body image goals.

Ashley Graham Is Also A Woman Of The Year

#GlamourWOTY

A photo posted by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on

Adding to her already impressive list of accomplishments, Ms. Graham was also among the ladies to receive one of Glamour‘s Woman of the Year awards, which are given to high-profile female celebrities who demonstrate leadership skills and offer contributions to society. UPI shared that Graham delivered an acceptance speech that revealed her pride in seeing so much change in 2016, particularly for the acceptance of diversity and plus-size women in the media.

Thanking Glamour for the recognition, Ashley said she felt her achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the support of society, suggesting that the sense of community in America is still strong, in spite of the conflicts currently threatening to divide us. Ms. Graham also hoped to encourage others to pursue their dreams without letting adversity defeat them.

“Don’t let your body hold you back. Don’t let your body insecurities hold you back from doing anything that you want to do,” said Ashley Graham.

In closing her acceptance speech, Graham said she hoped society would continue to grow. Ashley acknowledged that people have come a long way in just one year, but said she hoped society would continue to evolve and expand the definition of beauty to include a more diverse group of women.

[Featured Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]

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